Training but putting weight on?

Hi I'm hoping someone could help me, or my girlfriend to be precise.  I have been a runner for a number of years and do at least one half marathon every year, but my girlfriend doesn't really do much training/ running.  She has recently joined a gym (5 weeks ago) and is doing a lot of x-training, wave machine, exercise bike, and a bit on the treadmill.  I've really encouraged her because she's doing really well, and she'll do over an hour of training which is something she never thought she'd do. 

But she has a problem now.  She is weighing more than when she started and her thighs are getting bigger (her words not mine!)  I want to keep on encouraging her but she needs to see some results herself if she is to continue.  Any ideas what she can do, or what she shouldn't be doing?

Her diet is good (she's a veggie), full of fruit and not much chocolate!


  • Sound like the lady is putting on muscle. Muscle is heavy stuff.

    If I have got it right, low weights and quick reps will increase fitness without bulking up so much.

  • Totally agree with David. My dress size went up a bit because of all the muscle i put on. I always go by my body fat percentage now rather than what scales or dress size dictate.
  • Agree with David too.  I put on weight when I started training loads, but my body shape changed over time and now it's toned.   What happened to me for a while was that my muscle bulked up before I lost excess fat because I was always working out hard.  To lose that over layer, lower intensity exercise is good, like a brisk walk.  If she's working out in the gym, her membership is paying for the knowledge of people working there, so she could pick their brain too...
  • Is she doing weights? She'll notice more definition and change of body shape (if that's what she's after) if she does some weight training before her cardiovascular exercise. Moderate weight high reps.

    <Ponders 'wave machine' ? image Coo-eee!>

  • Agree about monitoring body fat %  Hopefully it is increased muscle, although Veggies tend to be poor at putting on muscle mass.

    Low v High intensity exercise - Higher intensity(interval) exercise is better for losing weight & fat than a larger volume of steady exercise, it also increases fitness quicker (remember an article about it, study was on female cyclists). 

    There is a place for lower intensity exercise, or more accurately a time, first thing in the morning before eating, will encourage the body to burn only fat, consider supplementing with L-Carnitine(it is the molecule that allows your cells to burn fat as energy, occurs naturally in the body but supplementation could help).

  • Hi,

    Sounds like lean muscle mass is building, but she may be keeping bodyfat as well as gaining muscle fibre depending on what she's eating...can you give more details?
  • Hi,

    JuanaH is right when she says that the Gym staff should be able to use their knowledge to help here (if its a decent gym). 

    When i joined the gym a year ago i wanted to do weights but they advised to lose the fat first and then build up if not i would just increase in size. I was over 18 stone and had 38% body fat. I went down to 12 stone (too skinny at 6' 1").  I'm now back to just under 13 stone but with a only 18% body fat. BMI down from 34 to 23. The weight gain is now all muscle. Not bad after 53 years of being a couch potato and yes i should have done it years ago !!!!!!!!!!.

  • Clive, that's a fine effort.  Nice one!
  • Many thanks for all your replies.  I'm worried that she is getting so down she'll pack it in altogether - and I don't blame her because she trains hard, is getting bigger and weighing seems to defy logic.  I advised running being a runner myself, but I forget how hard it can be, especially for someone who hasn't done much running in the past.  I will show her your replies and maybe she can reply to questions. 

    I wasn't expecting so many replies, and such good advice so thanks again!

  • Thanks JuanaH, the effort was mine but the guidance was down to one of the trainers at the gym. Without her imput i would have ended up at 20 stone loads of bulk but no real fitness. I think people need focus on what they are going to the gym for and to stick to the programme., as you say the membership fees are paying for their knowledge, trust it.
  • Definitely trust it, but get a second opinion too.  I have been surprised on occasions at some of the advice people dish out.  One of the PTs at my gym is really healthy but lives on protein shakes and he is constantly recommending (or selling them!), which I'm less of a fan of.  The person giving you advice needs to find out about you and not advise you on what's good for them.  We're all different!!

    Welsh Matt. Self esteem is key in this.  By showing her this, you won't knock her confidence will you?? By the fact that you've left a message on the forum, if she's feeling a bit down about herself, she may think that you don't like her anymore cos you're asking for advice from others.  Illogical I know, but we females sometimes read a lot into things....  Just something to think about image

  • She is down about it JuanaH, understandably so when you work out and put weight on.  I only asked advice because she asked me, so I think I'm alright on this one!! 

    She has read your responses but is a bit too shy to come on here herself.  She is now working out at a low intensity - with her heart rate around the 140 mark.  She has a programme to follow for 12 weeks and as long as things are going ok she will keep it up. 

  • Mrs Welshmatt, come on down, and say hello.  Keep us updated on how you're getting on.  I hurt my foot in my marathon on 5th October, and have since had a cold, so I haven't been training, and I've lost 2 kg, so there you go. 
  • Your muscles develop when you first start training, its a fact. Weight might not be the best measure of how she is doing, I found a tape measure or that my jeans were loser were a better indicator.

  • I went up to 11 stone when i was training daily, although my dress size was a 10 and my body fat 21 It did initially worry me because before i trained i lost weight on weight watchers and went down to 9 stone but i looked really unhealthy. I love the shape i have developed through training because although i am heavier than with weight watchers, i now look really toned and healthy and the weight of that muscle is far less important than how it makes me look and feel both inside and out.
  • If you put on weight when training, your eating too much.
  • Agreed with lardarse, I have to say.

    Having put in 9 months weight training and deliberate over-eating... and managing to gain a measly stone in weight... I can't see that running could ever make you "put on" weight. Remember the cardiovascular system responds to the demands of the muscular system, not the other way round.

    Running is more likely to have a catabolic effect on muscle, if anything.
  • I agree too. There is the possibility of some muscle gain in beginners but only up to a point (unless you have access to some dodgy pharmaceuticals). To gain muscle mass you need to actually take in more calories than you're expending. Does she feel like she's eating more?
  • I am 11 stone and dress size 8 to 10. I run two hours a day and weight train ( appropriately for running ) Everyone is different. I am big boned anyway. I gained weight through the extra muscle i have put on. and are certainly not eating too much as one of you has just commented. Saying someone is eating too much is just going to encourage her to eat less which can be really dangerous. If i was eating too much i wouldn't be able to fit into a size 8-10 dress now would i ? and my BMI certainly wouldn't be at 21. How great your muscle mass is can be largely influenced by genetics. I have a friend who does thousands of sit ups a week and can't get a flat stomach, where as i can get a six pack without hardly doing any. I have large muscles and are lucky in that i hardly have to do anything in order to keep them like that. What works for me may not work for many others. We need to know her calorie intake in order to take this argument further.
  • Mad - to build muscle you must take in more calories - that would explain her weight gain. I'm not suggesting that's fat gain but if she wants to lose weight through running then she needs to create a calorie deficit that may include the loss of lean muscle mass (we don't know anything about her build, current weight etc.).
  • Quote: "I am 11 stone and dress size 8 to 10. I run two hours a day and weight train ( appropriately for running )"

    Everyone is different, but no-one breaks the laws of thermodynamics. You can't be using more calories than you take in and STILL gain weight, it literally defies physics.

    If you weight train, you will gain muscle... weight training being a stimulus to adaptation (that adaptation is growing the muscle).

    Running is NOT an appropriate stimulus to put muscle on. Rather, it is a stimulus to shed unnecessary muscle in order to make it easier to travel distance without carrying any weight you do not strictly need.

    How those calories are used is determined by activity type and level.
  • Baron- Apologies, i am not having a go at you, i just felt people were having a dig that i was eating too much. You are right in what you say that yes if she was only running then you are totally correct, she shouldn't gain that much. I agree completely. I on the other hand do a lot of cycling, rowing, x-training etc which is where i got the muscle build up. I didn't get that heavy from just running alone. Sorry if i have misunderstood you but yes i agree running alone should not cause the increase in muscle mass that i have gained. I got the wrong end of the stick i'm sorry.
  • The lady in question in the thread is doing large amounts of cross training, weights and a LITTLE on the treadmill. I completely agree with baron that's it's virtually impossible to put on large amounts of weight when running: But, the lady is not doing Just running which is why i was suggesting that her increase in weight may be partly to do with muscle increase. I have to eat quite a large amount because i am training for a minimum of two hours a day. I want this muscle build up, but again, i completely agree that if she doesn't then she needs to reduce the amount of cross training and weights she is doing. Paul i agree with what you are saying. Maybe i didn't explain myself well enough. It's the x-training, rowing,cycling and weights that have increased my muscle mass Not the running. I am sorry if i did not make that clearer.
  • Squall88_uk wrote (see)

    total garbage statement above sorry mate, muscle replaces fat, muscles bulk up especially when taking protein supplements. My colleague started gaining weight when he went on a near stavation diet as his body was storing calories not using. Trick is to dump protein based supps, drink lots of milk after trainign and do low impact training but do it for longer,  no wieghts and definitely no uphill or simulated uphill cycling


    complete garbage

  • I always understood you have X amount of fat cells.... which is why lyposuction is a risky prospect as if you gain weight it cannot go on where the cells are no longer so the fat cells left get x proportion bigger.

    I don't understand muscle replaces fat? Your fat cells shrink I assumed as they contain less, building up muscle is a separate thing and you don't necessarily loose one to gain the other? you can gain muscle mass and increase your fat levels at the same time or loose both? Or any combination? Am I wrong in thinking this.

    So "muscle replaces fat" is just not correct is it? I didnt think the fat cells shrunk and their contents walked off in a huff and jumped into your muscles instead?

    Being fatter or thinner from a fat point of view i always understood was the X amount of cells just have more or less in them.

  • @booktrunk

    I have read a bit on bodybuding forums and the like in my time of dieting etc.  Most of them will cut weight in doing so it will reduce their body fat % but they will lose some muscle as well.
    They will bulk up overatin and training hard but with a calorie deficit so that they increase weight hoping to convert as much of a percentage to muscle as possible but fat levels go up too.  They then rinse and repeat to get better definition from lower body fat %.

    Thats the understanding I took away from it so it may be I am wrong but I agree with your thoughts.



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